REVIEW: GOOD BOYS (2019)

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GOOD BOYS (2019)

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Disappointing coming of age comedy finds three sixth grade buddies Max (Jacob Tremblay), Thor (Brady Noon) and sensitive Lucas (Keith L. Williams) going to a “kissing party” run by the most popular kid in middle school, Soren (Izaac Wang). Max wants to go to finally show his class crush Brixlee (Millie Davis) how he feels, but there’s one problem…none of the the nerdy trio have never kissed a girl before. That is the least of their worries, however, as their path to the biggest party of the school year is blocked by a series of escalating misadventures involving, drugs, sex toys, a drone and two pissed-off college girls named Hannah (Molly Gordon) and Lily (Midori Francis).

The film is lifelessly directed by The Office veteran Gene Stupnitsky from a unimaginative script by he and Lee Eisenberg. It’s a shame because there was potential here for a really funny and heartfelt look at modern day Tweens at that crucial point where they leave childhood behind for the tumultuous teens. The film fails on every level. There are a few sentimental bits in the last act, but overall the film is far more concerned with being as vulgar as possible and by putting these kids in as many inappropriate situations as can be and even with that, it takes the easiest and laziest path. There were a few laughs, but very few and most of the moments involving drugs, internet porn, Thor’s parents’ sex toys and frat house drug dealers are either just uncomfortable or fall flat altogether. This film is a perfect example of the trailer showing the best bits and literally, anything slightly amusing was in the previews. The rest is bland, cliché and sometimes outright dull. Sorry, but having middle school kids doing things in slow motion to gangster rap music does not cleverness make…and is an overused cliché at this point, as well.

Biggest shame is the waste of a good cast. Tremblay, Noon and Williams are an endearing enough trio as the self proclaimed “Bean Bag Boys”. They’re likable nerds, full of mischief and suddenly emerging hormones and it’s sad the script isn’t better for them. They have a good chemistry together and are sadly put through the motions of a series of situations that strive for the lowest common denominators of humor. Also good were Molly Gordon and Midori Francis as college girls Hannah and Lily, two girls the boys cross paths with. All the girls want is to go to the city for a concert and get high, but the boys’ antics shatter their plans and put the girls in hot pursuit. Gordon and Francis work really well together and it would actually be fun to see the characters return in their own flick, with a much better script and director this time. Also good are Will Forte as Max’s dad and Lil Rel Howery and Retta as Lucas’ clueless, divorcing parents.

Despite having a good cast and the platform for a fun story of Tweens growing into their teens, Good Boys and it’s makers take the laziest route possible. It focuses on being vulgar and uncomfortable and forgets to actually be funny and engaging. It wastes a good cast with a series of bland and cliché situations, when it could have done something really funny with more of a story and a little substance beneath the dirty jokes. Worst of all, the trailer truly showed all the best bits, which are few and far between to begin with. If you want a coming of age comedy with intelligence, heart and yet still raunchy and hilariously funny, try Booksmart, a sadly overlooked flick from earlier this year.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 (out of 4) drones

 

 

 

 

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: GET OUT (2017)

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GET OUT (2017)

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Get Out is another movie surround by massive hype that it does’t really live up to, but is certainly worth seeing. The film tells of young black man, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) going up to a wealthy white community to meet the parents (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) of his white girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams). Chris immediately starts to feel something is wrong, as her parents are a little too eager to see him and appear open-minded to him. Worse still, the only black people he encounters are behaving quite strangely and the neighbors are a bit “off” to say the least. The longer he stays, the more he comes to believe something sinister is going on and he might be in danger if he stays…but will they let him leave?

Written and directed by Jordan Peele, this is a sort of combination of Stepford Wives and Disturbing Behavior with an African-American angle added. The film is obviously filled with statements on race relations and the status of black Americans in today’s world. And important though they be, the film’s messages were a little too obvious, at times, when subtlety was working much better, such as the party scene where Chris meets the neighbors. The film works best when dealing with paranoia and Chris not being sure if this hidden threat is real or imagined. Also, the flick isn’t nearly as scary as the hype surrounding it suggests, but Peele does create some nice atmosphere and tension and there are some scenes where there are some unsettling and yet darkly humorous moments. The film stumbles a bit with some intrusive comedy bits involving Chris’ TSA friend Rod (Lil Rel Howery) and an over-the-top Franenstein-ish twist in it’s last act which dangerously borders on silly…though does work. It’s also obvious from the first scene at the house that Rose’s parents, Dean and Missy, are complete phonies, so it’s no surprise when we realize they are up to no good…and certain betrayals are also no surprise either, with that in mind. Peele still shows some strong potential, as he has a nice visual eye, constructed some spooky hallucinogenic sequences that are very effective and the last act has some impact as Chris enters in a fight for his life. There is some startling violence and the script is clever with connecting the dots from what we’ve seen during the course of the film to it’s big reveal. Not a great film, but one that works more than it doesn’t and shows that Peele has a cleverness to his writing we are interested in seeing more of.

Another thing that helps Peele is a good cast. Daniel Kaluuya makes for a down to earth, but solid hero. He is likable and seems like a genuinely nice guy. He conveys Chris’ paranoia well and even a reluctance as he is forced to act violently when thrust in a life and death situation. Catherine Keener nearly steals the show as Rose’s therapist mother. She oozes malevolence, once things get going and the sequences of her using her hypnotherapy on Chris are some of the creepiest in the film. Bradley Whitford is fine as Rose’s surgeon dad. He comes across as a bit too phony and obvious, though and his liberal banter to impress Chris comes across as exactly that and should have set alarms off right away. Allison Williams is also fine as Rose and while she doesn’t get much to do early on, she does deliver some nice malice once her true nature is revealed. Lil Rel Howery is the only character that I felt didn’t fit in. He is a little too over-the-top comic and that didn’t quite fit with the more subtly satirical nature of the rest of the film. He would be fine in an outright comedy, but his bits got in the way of the tension that Peele was trying to build. This seemed, however, due more to directing and script than an actor doing his job. Finally, Caleb Landry Jones is suitably creepy as Rose’s brother who is a little less eager to hide his true self and is the first character to signal to Chris that he may not be as welcome here as he is led to believe.

A horror masterpiece?…no…an instant classic?…not really, but once you ignore the hype and take it for what it is, it is an interesting horror debut from Jordan Peele that isn’t perfect, but has enough that works to make it worth a watch. While Peele’s messages and social commentary can be a little too obvious at times and the film’s comic moments are a bit intrusive, a slightly satirical slant keeps the film from getting too preachy, which is in it’s favor. There is also some nice tension, an engaging climax and some really good performances especially from our leading man and Keener’s villainous therapist. It’s not nearly as scary as over-active hype would suggest, but it does have some intense and purposely uncomfortable sequences and does leave one thinking about how we are seen by and behave toward our fellow Americans. So flaws aside, this makes Jordan Peele a filmmaker to watch and Get Out a film that warrants watching as well…just don’t let the hype set standards for the film that it cannot possibly live up to.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 deer…you’ll have to see the movie

 

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